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Jada: Meet the Scots

Rob, Roly, Mark and Euan
Robert, Roland, Mark and Euan.

Euan and Robert
Euan and Robert take time for a quick photo while eating dinner in the field.

Robert, Euan and Mark’s story of their journey to America:

Robert, Euan and Mark are all friends from the Aberdeen area. Robert has wanted to go on harvest for at least 6 years. “I heard of the harvesting profession when I watched the DVD’sof the 2000 Mile Harvest and Custom Harvest.” Robert was going to fulfill his dream and went online to find harvesters but wasn’t getting much response. In the meantime, Robert, who works as a plumber back home, met former Hoffman Harvesting member, Kenny Criggie, while working on his home.  Kenny told Robert about all the fun times he had on harvest and of all the things he learned. When he heard of Robert’s interest in harvest, he instantly called my dad, Perry. Robert’s interest in harvest got Euan and Mark excited to come on harvest. The group was soon interviewed by Perry and hired thanks to Kenny’s help.  

Robert, Euan and Mark’s flight to America was scheduled and they were set to fly to the end of April from Aberdeen, Scotland to Aberdeen, S.D., a town an hour from the home of Hoffman Harvesting, Bowdle, S.D. According to the group, this interesting flight had the airport staff scratching their heads as they couldn’t figure out how and why the flight had them flying in a circle.

In Scotland, the average summer temperature is 50 to 60 degrees and the hottest Scotland gets is the 80s. When my family heard of the differences in weather and found the Scots enjoyed our unusually cool spring weather, we were nervous for them being able to survive the harsh summer weather. The group has managed to not only endure the weather, but has come to enjoy the weather.

Roly and Mark relaxing
 Roly and Mark relaxing and surfing the net.

How Roland decided to come to America:

Roland hails from a small town just outside of Aberdeen just as Robert, Euan and Mark, however, Roly traveled on his own. I watched the same videos Robert did and decided to apply.  In the meantime, I was debating on going back to college when I was told I was accepted. Since I have wanted to go on harvest for two years, I decided to choose that route instead of school. It seemed more fun,” explained Roland. Roland came early and was able to help with planting our crop.

Hitching a ride

Is that Mark hitchhiking?! Shall we pick him up or let him walk 🙂 This sign is somewhat funny … each year we drive by it on the way to the field and it gets a lot of attention.

 Life in America for the four Scots- Roland, Euan, Mark and Robert

America was what we anticipated because we all saw the harvest videos,” said Euan. “We knew what we were going to do and had a rough idea what harvest was going to be like, but every day is different,” added Mark. The group went on to say not knowing what is going to happen from day to day is the best part about harvest. They enjoy moving about and meeting different people and have enjoyed meeting the locals in each town.

When asked what they enjoy most about America, they said they like being at a different place each week. They also said they enjoy the weather. “I have never had so much sun in my life. At home the weather is often overcast. The sunny, warm weather is a nice change,” said Mark. Since coming here the group even has a tan!

When asked what the most unique experience the group has had in America is they said experiencing the weather—large rain storms and lightning storms. They also said moving the big equipment down the road has been amazing.

Farming in Scotland versus America

The scale of farming in America is a lot bigger than Scotland. Where the group has harvested so far, there hasn’t been any bins. As a result, they think there seems to be a lot less labor here because at home crops are wetter and need to be dried.  Roly said, “We get more rain at home so harvest is a race against the rain.” In Scotland, wheat, oats, and barley used for making whiskey are the most commonly produced crops. The crops are cut from 16 to 20 percent moisture. This is wet in comparison to the wheat harvest in America, where the wheat needs to be at least 13.5 percent moisture or lower.

The group says our no-till technique also makes for less work.The average rainfall in Scotland is 50 inches/ plus. The heavy rain compacts the ground forcing farmers to work their land a lot. “The land gets worked at least 3 times during planting season. We plow and/or disk the land two or three times before the land is planted and roll it once the crop is planted to safeguard the crop against the rain,” explained Robert.

The terrain in Scotland is hilly and the average fields are around 20 to 30 acres. Many of the fields have stone walls around them. “Our equipment is a lot smaller and has to be because we have to fit our machinery through the stone wall gates. The combine we use here is way too big. I even think the combine without the header would be too wide to fit through our gates.” Euan said. “At home we have a 12 foot header,” said Roly. “In our case, we have a 10 foot header so we don’t have to take our headers off when moving fields,” added Robert. The group went on to joke about how quickly the fields would be harvested if they had big headers like we do.

 Jada Bulgin can be reached at jada@allaboardharvest.com. All Aboard 2009 Wheat Harvest is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.


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